Today in Sports History: January 18

By Jonah Sharf

On January 18, 1958, Willie O’Ree took the ice for the Boston Bruins to become the first ever black player to play in the NHL. He was soon sent back to the minors, and didn’t play in the NHL again until the 1960-61 season, scoring four goals and recording ten assists in 43 games with the Bruins. After the season, his contract was sold to the Los Angeles Blades of the Western Hockey League, where he would spend most of the rest of his career. He retired in 1979 at the age of 43, playing professional hockey for a total of 19 seasons. It took 60 years, but O’Ree was finally honored by being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November of 2018. As the first black person to play in the NHL, he is often referred to as the “Jackie Robinson of ice hockey.”

 

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